Massachusetts License to Carry in 3 Easy Steps
It takes a bit of time and a bit of money but, yes, you can get a License to Carry in MA in just a few steps.
Step 1: Attend a Basic Firearms Safety Course (about $95)
The basic safety courses are offered in a few places in the Boston metro area. I took mine at MA Gun Safety in Woburn. As gun permit applications continue to grow each year, there is often a wait of a month or so for an opening so plan ahead. This is a solid orientation to gun safety and MA gun laws.
You will learn how revolvers and semi-automatics operate, how to safely load a firearm, how to safely handle it, how to safely store it, etc. You will learn about stove-pipes, hang fires and other malfunctions; what to do and what NOT to do when they happen. You will learn about safely and legally transporting handguns and long guns.
All courses take a slightly different path according to the instructor’s experience but the above fundamental elements of safe handling and laws will all be covered.
What you will NOT learn is threat detection, draw and present techniques from concealed carry, using cover and concealment, tactical reloads, managing multiple threats, etc. These courses are available, affordable, fun and they are EXTREMELY important.
Buying a guitar does not make you a musician. Likewise, buying a handgun does not make you a Navy SEAL. After you purchase your firearm, attend at least one training course to get you started in the practical use of your new tool.
Step 2: Apply for a License to Carry at your local law enforcement office (free to about $100)
When you have your date scheduled for the Basic Firearms Safety Course, call your local Police Department to request an appointment to apply for the LTC. Yes, you will likely need an appointment and you may have to wait months to get it! Welcome to Massachusetts.
I was on a three month waiting list at my local PD. The appointment also required a $100 cash fee that was not refundable even if my license was denied. Every city is a little different but this is one example for which you should be mentally prepared. If you get a quick appointment and no processing fee, great!
You must present the original Basic Firearms Safety Course certificate. You’ll be fingerprinted, photographed and your background will be checked. References are also required.
A part of the process will include…
The big question: Why are you applying for a firearms license?
The correct answer: “For all lawful purposes.”
Don’t try to over explain yourself. “For all lawful purposes” is the terminology in Mass General Law Chapter 140, Section 131 that the people processing your application are familiar with. Use their terminology and keep it simple.
Massachusetts is a “May Issue” state (most of northeast + California) as opposed to a “Shall Issue” state (rest of the country). May Issue means that the local Chief Law Enforcement Officer has the final say in whether or not you are granted your license even if you have a clean background. He/She “may issue” your license and they may not. Welcome to Massachusetts.
Step 3: Wait patiently
Once your application is in process there is nothing left to do but wait. It may be just a couple weeks or it may take months. My own experience was a 6 week wait. When your license arrives you will go to the Police Department to pick it up. It’s a plastic card similar to a driver’s license which is handy because you will want to keep this license in your wallet if you carry. You will also need to present it when you go purchase your first firearm and every time you buy ammo.
Along with the license you will also receive a PIN which is required when your purchase a firearm. It is just as valuable and needs to be safeguarded as the PIN to your bank account so keep it secure.
So, after a couple hundred bucks and likely 3 or 4 months of processing, you can finally go purchase your first firearm! Not exactly what our founding fathers had in mind when they documented “… the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed,” but there is at least still a pathway to get there! Again, welcome to Massachusetts.
Good luck and welcome to the great community of gun owners!
Check out www.handgunlaw.us for more details on the process and laws in Massachusetts. This is an excellent resource.